UK Department for Transport Launches Consultations on Use of Small Personal Electric Vehicles and Electric-Assist Bikes
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation on the use of small electric personal vehicles. The consultation seeks views on the principle of changing the law to permit the use of small electric personal vehicles (EPVs)—e.g., the Segway Personal Transporter or the Toyota Winglet Transporter—on public roads and cycle tracks. It does not include consideration of their use on pedestrian footways or footpaths.
At present any EPV which does not comply with existing road traffic law may only be used on private land with the landowner’s permission.
The DfT is also launching a consultation on electrically-assisted pedal cycles (EAPC). The proposals in this consultation will provide greater clarity for consumers on whether a product is considered to be an electrically-assisted pedal cycle or a motor vehicle. It also addresses harmonizing UK regulations with European standards.
Both consultations close 30 March 2010.
New technologies can offer new opportunities and this consultation offers the chance for a full consideration of the issues around electric personal vehicles. We want to hear from groups and individuals with opinions and evidence on whether the law should be changed to permit such vehicles on public roads and cycle tracks. We will then consider all the responses carefully before deciding whether any further action is required.
EPVs. The DfT says it is aware of one EPV which has been developed to comply with road traffic law requirements and another which is being developed to meet such requirements. With very few exceptions, powered vehicles which comply with road traffic law requirements may use the carriageway, but not cycle tracks, provided their riders comply with other relevant provisions. They are for the most part not permitted on pedestrian footways (only a very few vehicles, which comply with specific requirements, e.g. invalid carriages and cleaning machinery used by local authorities, may use such areas).
Although DfT has to date received few approaches from members of the public seeking permission to use ‘non-compliant’ EPVs, and no manufacturers or promoters have sought changes to the law except those representing Segway. However, the Secretary of State for Transport has concluded that an initial ‘in principle’ public consultation about possible changes to the law should be undertaken.
Some options to consider in the treatment of EPVs include:
- Construction standard requirements
- Pre-market type approval requirements
- Roadworthiness inspection requirements
- Driver testing/licensing requirements
- Registration and insurance requirements
- Use on pedal cycle facilities
EAPCs. The specification of EAPCs in the UK is currently regulated by The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983. The recent introduction of a European Standard for EAPCs created a mismatch between the European requirements and the current UK Regulations, causing confusion for both industry and consumers. The changes to legislation proposed in the consultation will address the mismatch and, in the main, provide a simplification of existing legislation.
Among the issues to be addressed are:
Power Limit. The UK EAPC Regulations currently permit a maximum continuous rated power of 200W for bicycles and 250W for tandems and tricycles. The European rules permit a maximum continuous rated power of 250W for bicycles, tandems and tricycles.
Pedaling. Pedal Assistance - Cycles that permit power assistance without the rider pedalling fall within the scope of the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval Framework Directive for motorcycles and should comply with the various standards set out therein. Regulatory requirements on licensing for riders and vehicles, insurance and taxation also apply.
Bicycle and Tandem Weight. Neither the European standard nor the European Whole Vehicle Type-Approval Framework Directive for motorcycles specifies a weight limit for EAPCs. The UK EAPC Regulations specify a maximum weight for bicycles of 40 kg and a maximum weight for tandems and tricycles of 60 kg.